Macron crisis: French president condemned over coronavirus after humiliating poll

The Odoxa poll of 3,005 Europeans, conducted on April 30-May 4 for newspaper Le Figaro and France Info radio, found 66 percent of French people think the government “failed to rise to the challenge” and mishandled the health crisis.

Only 34 percent said they were happy with the government’s handling of the epidemic.

Th survey also found that 74 percent of respondents believe the centrist administration “failed to make the right decisions at the right time”. 

The poll, carried out in several European countries, found 63 percent of British people approved of their government’s handling of the outbreak.

Those findings lined up with another poll also published on Sunday, which showed that just 33 percent of French people have trust in the government’s ability to successfully tackle the health crisis.

The Ifop poll of 1,000 people, conducted on May 5-6 for newspaper Le Parisien, also found that 58 percent of French people believe that the looming economic crisis is currently “the greatest threat to the country”.

After enjoying a rally in public support in the early days of the epidemic, President Emmanuel Macron’s handling of the health crisis has been strongly criticised, with the government’s mixed messages on when or even whether to wear face masks fuelling distrust and confusion.

France’s 67 million people began to tiptoe out of one of Europe’s toughest lockdowns on Monday, as schools and businesses opened their doors after being shuttered for eight weeks. 

France, whose official death toll is the world’s fifth highest, imposed a full lockdown on March 17 to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, with people only allowed out for essential shopping, work and solitary exercise.

Shops and hair salons can now reopen, while people can venture outdoors without a government-mandated form, except for trips of more than 62 miles, which are only allowed for professional reasons, funerals or caring for the sick.

The Macron government decided to peel back the restrictions after the number of virus patients in intensive care units – a key measure of hospitals’ ability to cope with the epidemic – fell to less than half the peak of over 7,000 recorded in early April.

The number of people in ICU fell by 36 to 2,776 on Sunday, the health ministry said.

Another positive indicator has been the continued decline in the number of daily deaths from coronavirus infections, which fell to 70 on Sunday, bringing the total to 26,380.

But the government has called for caution, with some regions including the Paris area remaining in “red zones” and subject to a stricter deconfinement. Working from home is still strongly encouraged nationwide.

A few sporadic clusters of infection have emerged in recent days, including one in Dordogne where at least nine people contracted the virus after attending a funeral in late April, and another one in a central France secondary school where four people were infected.

The government has not ruled out imposing a new lockdown if the spread of the virus accelerates again.

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